How to Grow Kale from Seed: A Comprehensive Guide for Every Gardener
As any health-conscious individual will tell you, greens are an essential part of any balanced diet, and among them, kale has grown increasingly popular due to its exceptional nutrient profile. However, what if you could grow this superfood right in your backyard or even a simple pot at home? Yes, you absolutely can and it’s an easy and fulfilling process!
What You Need to Know About Kale
Commonly known for its health benefits, kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the cabbage family. It is packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and can be incorporated into various dishes. Moreover, growing kale from seeds is a remarkable way to always have it fresh and ready in your kitchen. The varieties of kale include curly kale, dinosaur kale, ornamental kale, and russo Siberian kale — all of which can be grown from seeds.
Before embarking on your gardening journey, there’s a little bit of background information you need to know. Kale tends to thrive in cool weather and can survive frost, making it a perfect choice for cold climates. However, with a little care, it can also do well in warmer weather.
Preparing for Planting
Whether you’re planting in an open garden or in a pot, the success of your kale starts with good soil. Your soil needs to be well-drained, and the pH level should be between 6.0 and 7.5. If you’re planting directly into the ground, you should till your soil to a depth of 12-15 inches. To give your kale a nutrient boost, you might want to enrich your soil with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure.
The ideal time to plant kale is early spring or late summer. The warm soil in early spring encourages quick germination while fall planting sees a sweeter and more robust flavor as a result of the cooling temperatures.
Planting the Seeds
When it comes to planting the seeds, space them approximately ½ inch deep and 3 inches apart. They should start to sprout in about 5 to 8 days. Once your seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them out so they are roughly 12-18 inches apart. This gives them all the space they need to grow into the hardy, nutrient-dense plants they are known to be.
Another notable fact is that kale loves the sun; be sure to choose a luminous location for planting. However, bear in mind that in an extremely hot climate, partial shade will be beneficial.
Tending to Your Kale Plants
After planting, it is important to consistently water your kale. The soil should be kept moist, but not soaked. Mulching helps retain water and prevents the growth of weeds. Regular fertilizing with organic compost or a slow-release fertilizer enhances your kale’s health and productivity.
Watch out for pests and diseases which may affect your plants. Caterpillars, aphids, and slugs might attack while diseases like powdery mildew and black rot can set in. Regular checks and early treatment can keep your plants healthy and vibrant.
Harvesting Your Kale
One of the best things about kale is that you can start harvesting as soon as the leaves grow big enough to eat! Simply cut off the outer leaves while allowing the center of the plant to continue growing. This way, you will have a steady supply of fresh, tasty kale from your garden.
However, remember that picking too many leaves at once can weaken the plant. Spare the small tender leaves at the center of the plant; they are the next generation of foliage.
“Frequently Asked Questions”Question 1: Can I grow kale all year round?
Answer: Kale generally prefers cooler weather and can even withstand a light frost. However, it can also be grown in warmer climates with a little extra care. This makes kale a versatile plant that can be grown nearly all year round.
Question 2: How long does it take for kale to mature from seed?
Answer: Generally, kale takes about 55 to 75 days to mature enough for harvesting. However, baby kale leaves can be picked as early as 25 days after planting.
Question 3: Should I soak kale seeds before planting?
Answer: Soaking kale seeds before planting can speed up germination, but it isn’t a must. You can sow them directly into the soil.